2 Sep

According to the Kinsey Report, one of the best documented studies on sexuality, over 20 per cent of married couples over 50 have not had sex for the past year. Whether this is because of lack of opportunity or desire is open to speculation. But what is clear is that this isn’t a subject tackled by many Hollywood films. So a big thumb’s up to Vanessa Taylor of Game of Thrones fame, who wrote the script of Hope Springs.

This movie is Meryl Streeps first outing since her Oscar success in First Lady. And her role as an American housewife is about as far as you can get from her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher. Hope Springs is essentially a romantic comedy for oldies. Kay (Streep) and Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones) are like millions of married couples. Together for 31 years, they are plodding along on the same boring routine out of habit. She, trying to kill him with a daily breakfast of fried egg and bacon. He, barely noticing his wife, except to kiss her dutifully on the cheek and to announce that he will be home at the usual time of 6pm.

So far, so predictable. But Hope Springs does at least attempt to tackle the subject of sexual desire for the over 50s. The film starts with Streep dressing up in a flowing, diaphanous nightdress hoping for a night of passion with her husband. Shes nervous, primping her hair and trying her best to look coquettish. She slinks in to her husbands bedroom (theyve slept separately for many years), only to be rejected by Arnold because of his rather lame excuse that he is feeling bloated because he had pork for lunch.

The fact of the matter is that they have not had sex for years. Realising that their marriage is fossilising, Kay takes matter into her own hands by booking a weeks marriage counselling at a small town in called Hope Springs. Arnold is horrified. He has been somnambulant for many years, sleepwalking his way through life and his accountants soul is shocked back to consciousness by his wifes rare moment of truth that she is unhappy in their marriage. Were not certain whether its because she has spent $4,000 on this week of navel gazing or because he fears an end to having his meals cooked and ready for him.

Streep as usual is game for anything. Even trying for a comedy moment by attempting to give Lee Jones a blow job in a movie theatre. But Streep doesnt seem totally confident in these scenes or perhaps genuinely feels that she is truthfully portraying a repressed, sexually unconfident woman. Either way, it didnt work for me.

What did hold my interest in the film was whether these two people should stay together or split up. One of the most poignant scene is where Kay asks Arnold when was the last time he touched her and not just for photos. Is it better to be alone and lonely than in a loveless relationship? Lee Jones gives an amusing rendition of an emotionally stunted man who steps way outside his comfort zone to try and re-discover the passion in his marriage. There arent many dark moments in the film, directed by David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada), steering clear of what happens when love goes out of relationships. Nevertheless, its an entertaining, feel-good movie, if erring on the safe side.


Samsara Film Preview

16 Aug

Samsara Film Preview.


Samsara Film Preview

16 Aug

Samsara, a Tibetan word that means “the ever turning wheel of life”, was made by filmmakers Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson over a period of five years in twenty-five countries on five continents.

I had an unexpectedly cheap night out recently when a friend invited me to a free movie preview at the O2 in north Greenwich. Well, it would have been cheap if I hadn’t blown £2.75 on a bottle of water and a fiver on a couple of capuccinos. Grrrrr.

Anyway, I digress. The film I saw was called Samsara, a beautifully photographed movie without any dialogue. At first, I was dubious that this could sustain my interest, so I contented myself with gazing at the lush colour and evocative close-ups of Indonesian dancers and Buddhist monks in their saffron robes. Samsara, a Tibetan word that means “the ever turning wheel of life”, was made by filmmakers Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson over a period of five years in twenty-five countries on five continents.

Gradually, I was sucked into the film, becoming more engrossed as the images of nature’s most beautiful landscapes segued into man-made marvels such as the Notre Dame and the fast-flowing electric lights of speeding traffic on busy highways.

It was a movie meditation into the cycle of life and death, encompassing Western lifestyles and contrasting them with the more ‘authentic’ traditions of African tribes. It made me question the modern way of living as the technological world came into focus. The emptiness and the sensory deprivation of office workers who spend their lives at grey computer terminals, in grey little boxes, living out their grey little lives.

One of the most sensational pieces of film I have ever seen were the swarms of thousands of white-robed Muslims at the Hadj in Mecca. Shot from above, the swirling, swarming masses of people ceased to become human, but abstract patterns, slowly circling one way, and then the other.

The outside world turned inwards, as we entered the horror of battery hen farming and enormous pigs lying helplessly on their sides made me feel slightly queasy about the chicken and bacon sandwich I had for lunch. A shot of a man’s enormous stomach soon followed the sow scene, making the obvious visual point that we are what we eat. Note to self: cut down on the burgers and fries. A woman sitting next to me said: “This is the scariest film I’ve ever seen!”

Highpoint of the film? The Japanese teddy boys and weird girls with piercings and PVC face masks. Shoreditch poseurs eat your heart out.

This film will appeal to those who have a heightened sense and appreciation of design, photography and art. Obviously this didn’t apply to the guy who left after 10 minutes. He really missed out.

If the shoe fits…

18 Jul

If the shoe fit….


If the shoe fit…

18 Jul

Cinderella and her sisters would be squealing with delight

. Just pinged into my inbox is news of the first ever Cheltenham Fashion Week. Founded by Cotswold fashionista Sam Bawden, the planning for this inaugural event has been in the pipeline for more than two years.

Catching the eye will be a very large fuchsia pink stiletto, measuring12ft by 10ft, which will be visiting destinations including Cleeve Hill, Cheltenham Racecourse and Gloucestershire Airport and others over the next ten weeks.

This event is really something for dedicated followers of fashion, with talks from leading retailers and career seminars. One to watch out for is designer Kelly Thorne, an up and coming luxury womenswear label produced locally in Leckhampton. And of course a very high profile VIP couture fashion show at Cowley Manor. Watch out for some excellent celeb spotting!

What’s great is that the event is also supporting the Hop, Skip & Jump charity which provides care for children with serious illnesses. The charity is patroned by Liz Hurley. Will she be there? We are on the edge of our seats…

I also really love the sub-campaign which is ‘You don’t have to be size zero to love fashion’. The fashion week aims to involve everyone regardless of shape, size or age. Three cheers for that.

Wimbledon fashion

9 Jul

Well, let’s say goodbye to SW19 for another year. It’s always fun to see how those sartorially inclined tennis players try to get round the all-white rule. It’s difficult being limited to one colour, so accessorising is key to lifting that Persil-inspired look. Ladies singles (and doubles) winner Serena Williams complemented her outfit with purple knicker-shorts and matching headband. The American has her own style and “amazing outfits”, as she calls them.

The younger Williams sister is full of praise for her skills, calling herself “an unbelievable designer. I don’t know how I know and just do these things. I just start sketching and then I just know the colors and I always know the forecast. I know green and purple are going to be hot. I was born to be a designer. I worked hard to be a tennis player, I don’t work hard to be a designer.”

Who can forget her memorable leather-look catsuit she wore as a 17-year-old at the U.S. Open? She has her own line of designer clothing called Aneres, her first name spelled backward, which sells in Miami and Los Angeles boutiques.

The roll call of high society watching the action included the Middleton sisters, Prince Michael of Kent and Lord Freddie Windsor leading the blue-blooded brigade. Showbiz was represented by Jude Law, Dr Who star Matt Smith and Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood.

Victoria Beckham was wearing her new autumn/winter collection, a dress in shades of dark green to match the further reaches of untouched Wimbledon lawn, and £275 sunglasses from her own range. And of course no A-list celeb is seen without the must-have enormous accoutrement. No, we’re not talking humungous bouncer here. Beckham had in tow a hefty, hexagonal VB crocodile shoulder bag. Priced at around £8,950, if anyone’s interested.

Sir Cliff Richard was wearing a Union Jack flag jacket, although I couldn’t tell that’s what it was. I had to read the Daily Mail to decipher it for me. It looked like a patchwork quilt affair and thought that the Bachelor Boy had taken recycling and eco fashion to new heights.

Of course, tennis and fashion have always been as close as a tiebreaker – Ralph Lauren has been the official outfitter of the championships with a range of polo shirts, jackets, fleeced and headwear for seven years now.

My prize for most out-there tennis fashion must go to Bethanie Mattek-Sands, the self-proclaimed Lady Gaga of the women’s tour. She wears tube socks and black under-eye patches. Alex Noble, who creates many of the outlandish costumes that Gaga wears, has recently provided some items for Mattek-Sands.

For her first-round match at Wimbledon Mattek-Sands wore a Noble design. The white jacket had a cowgirl feel with long fringes. The jacket sleeves were embellished with 12 balls on each arm.

Unfortunately, her opponent Misaki Doi let the tennis do the talking, beating Mattek-Sands 6-4, 5-7, 7-5.

I can’t wait for the Olympic Games tennis to start. We should see some virulent shades popping up all over the courts.

Olympics fashion

4 Jul

Olympics fashion.